Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Match Week 32 Results: No Decision In Title Duel; Super Spurs; Everton Embarrass Manchester United; Seagull’s Dive Bomb Arsenal; West Ham Stung By Bees; Burnley Bumbles Its Chance; Chelsea Romps Over Sinful Saints; Leeds Dispose of Watford; Eagles Run Ends

Two evenly matched clubs failed to produce a winner for a second time this season as Manchester City and Liverpool fought to a 2-2 draw at the Etihad. The clubs similarly drew 2-2 at Anfield earlier in the season. Manchester City had the better of play and took the lead twice only for a tenacious Liverpool side to twice reinsert itself back into the Premier League chase. Kevin De Bruyne scored in just the fifth minute of the match and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus gave the Citizens a 2-1 halftime lead after Diogo Jota had scored for Liverpool’s first equalizer. Mohamed Salah, quiet in the first half, provided the pass for Sadio Mane to tie the match a second time just a minute into the second half. Manchester City’s best hope for a winner and separation in their title race ended when Riyad Mahrez lofted a chance over the crossbar in the final minutes. Pep Guardiola’s side retain their one-point lead in the Premier League table but allowed Liverpool to stay hotly on their heels with the shared points. Liverpool missed a chance to overtake the leaders but remain poised to capitalize on any future slip by the defending champions. The two sides clash again next week in the FA Cup semifinals when Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have another chance to gain separation in their record against each other which remains dead even dating back to their days in the Bundesliga.

Tottenham Hotspur Manager Antonio Conte is demonstrating his own managerial pedigree in turning around a Spurs season once thought lost but which is now on track to capture a top four spot. The former Premier League and Serie A title winning manager saw his current club run over Aston Villa 4-0 on Saturday for a fourth consecutive league win and sixth in Spurs’ last seven league outings. Son Heung-min struck for his first hat trick of the season to put Tottenham Hotspur three points ahead of rival Arsenal for the final Champions League berth as Spurs’ turnaround has seen them gain nine points on their north London rival in the last three weeks.

Villa lost a fourth consecutive match as questions are asked about Steven Gerrard’s impact on the club. Gerrard has now suffered 11 losses in his 20 matches in charge at Villa after his defense was sliced open by Spurs in front of the home fans in Birmingham.

Arsenal awoke from a match long slumber to score in the 89th minute of its match with Brighton only to cruelly tease fans of a comeback win versus the Seagulls. The miracle finish was not to be as the Gunners fell for a second straight week in a 2-1 loss which damages their Champions League hopes. The away loss last week against a Crystal Palace side which had been playing well was understandable. Losing to a Brighton squad at home was a completely different matter and raises alarm bells for the Gunners’ European qualification hopes. Brighton’s two goals were double what the Seagulls had scored in their prior seven league matches and the surprise win by Brighton was just the fourth win of the season for the south coast team.

Everton Manager Frank Lampard was able to celebrate a rare positive moment in his brief Everton tenure as his Toffees rose up in front of the Goodison faithful to capture all three points in a 1-0 win over lifeless Manchester United. The Toffees went ahead in the first half hour on a goal by favorite son Anthony Gordon who first joined the club a decade ago as an eleven-year-old. Gordon’s shot ricocheted into the net off a statuesque and immobile Manchester United center back Harry Maguire.

That one goal was enough as Manchester United were unable to generate any sustained form of threat. Just days after a devastating defeat at Burnley, the Toffees responded and may have saved their season. The Red Devils, meanwhile, showed no sense of urgency amid a purported chase for Champions League football next season. Interim Manager Ralph Rangnick seems unable to stoke his players’ interest and the interim manager now holds the dubious distinction of having the lowest Premier League winning percentage, at 47%, of any Manchester United manager. Cristiano Ronaldo was the rare Red Devil to show emotion on Sunday. After first receiving a yellow card for kicking a dead ball into the crowd, a frustrated Ronaldo later slapped a phone from the hand of an Everton supporter as the Portuguese superstar limped down the player’s tunnel following another abject defeat for his club. “Phone Gate” is under investigation by local authorities.

West Ham also lost ground to Arsenal in the top four chase when the Hammers lost at surging Brentford. Playing just three days after their Europa League draw with Lyon, the Hammers appeared fatigued and failed to have a single shot on target in the second half as they tried to overcome goals by Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumu and Ivan Toney each of whom was assisted by the other on the Brentford goals. The Bees won for a fourth time in their last five outings, a run which has coincided with the addition of Christian Eriksen to their midfield.

Burnley may have bungled their chances for survival this season by inexcusably losing 2-0 to Norwich just days after the Clarets’ huge win over Everton. Burnley’s loss and the Toffees’ win over Manchester United now undoes the once meaningful win for the Clarets. A brutal miss of an open net by Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet in the 65th minute epitomized the frustrating day for Burnley in a match where it needed to secure all three points. The Clarets have failed to score in three matches to date against the teams currently below them in the table, Norwich and Watford. Everton and the Leeds were the clear beneficiaries of Burnley’s bungle.

Leeds further removed itself from relegation concern in a 3-0 win at Watford. Manager Jesse Marsch has now led Leeds to three wins in a four-match unbeaten run which has put the Whites nine points above the relegation zone. Watford Manager Roy Hodgson faces his first Premier League relegation after a fourth loss in the last five matches for the Hornets. Watford managed just  a single shot on target against a Leeds side which has improved its defensive work under Marsch.

Southampton experienced another of its inexplicable defensive meltdowns which have been sprinkled across the relatively successful managerial tenure of Ralph Hasenhuttl. Chelsea was the beneficiary Saturday in a 6-0 destruction of the Saints at Saint Mary’s which conjured bad memories of 9-0 Saints defeats in recent years to Manchester United and Leicester. Southampton, which held Manchester City to a single goal in drawing twice with the league leaders this season, was undone by an energetic Chelsea attack which had been on sabbatical in recent matches. The victory provided a well needed boost for a Chelsea side which had lost two consecutive matches to Burnley and Real Madrid, respectively. Mason Mount and Timo Werner scored braces in the goal fest for Chelsea while Southampton managed just one shot on target versus the 14 put on net by the Blues.

Wolverhampton’s hopes for Europe took a hit in a 1-0 loss at Newcastle. Newcastle striker Chris Wood scored a penalty for his first home goal as a Magpie to account for the match’s only scoring. Wolves were surprisingly sluggish in a match where three points would have moved them up to sixth in the table, surpassing Manchester United and West Ham who also lost on the weekend. Newcastle, 19th in the table at the close of January, have moved ten points clear of the drop zone.

Leicester was a 2-1 winner at home versus Crystal Palace as Leicester midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall assisted on Ademola Lookman’s opening strike before scoring his own first Premier League goal. Wilfried Zaha put in the rebound of his own penalty miss to halve the second half deficit in the 66th minute but the Eagles ultimately failed to extend their seven-match unbeaten run. 

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